I bet by now, you have seen people riding around on fat tire electric bikes. Let’s dive into why fat tire ebikes are everywhere and why people choose them.
Ebikes have fat tires to help support the weight of the bike, give you more traction, help make riding them more comfortable, and help keep newer riders from accidents.
In this article, I will explain why ebike manufacturers have chosen to put fat tires on their bikes and debunk some of the myths surrounding fat tire ebikes!
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Why Have So Many Ebike Makers Decided to Put Fat Tires on Their Bikes?
- Fat tires – Help support the weight of the ebike
- Fat tires – Make the ride more comfortable
- Fat tires – Give you more traction
- Fat tires – Can cushion accidental impacts
- Fat tires – Can make you feel more secure
What Are the Downsides of Fat Tires on Ebikes?
- Fat tires – Are heavy
- Fat tires – Are more prone to flats
- Fat tires – Don’t fit well in most hitch racks
- Fat tires – Take up more space
What Are Some of the Myth Surrounding Fat Tires on Ebikes?
- Fat tires – Let your ride on the sand
- Fat tires – Let you ride on snow
- Fat tires – Are tougher than thinner tires
Keep reading and I’ll explain each of these more in-depth.
First, let’s talk about the good reasons so many ebikes have fat tires. There are quite a few upsides, otherwise, ebike makers would never use them.
What are the advantages of fat tire electric bikes?
Fat Tires Help Support the Weight of the Ebike
It’s no surprise that ebikes weigh more than regular bikes. However, ebikes with fat tires are generally hub-driven electric bikes and can weigh nearly 80lbs!
While there are some lesser-weight mid-drive fat tire ebikes available, the vast majority will have the motor in the hub of the wheel.
As a way to keep the overall cost down on the bike and help save the wheel from premature damage, most budget ebike companies just made their bikes with fat tires.
It’s like putting big pillows under your bike!
Higher-end electric bikes with regular-sized tires are designed for performance and will often come with a set of wheels that alone cost more than an entire budget ebike.
Strong bike wheels will easily support the weight of an ebike but can cost a small fortune.
So, part of this reason for fat tires is simply so the warranty department of a budget brand is not as inundated with calls about cheap wheels failing.
Fat Tires Make the Ride More Comfortable
More cushy for your tushy! Fat tires allow you to run far less tire pressure, due to their volume, and this will act as a sort of suspension for your ebike.
Your backside will thank you and your joints should feel less impact on bumpy roads. There are ways to accomplish this in ebikes with thinner tires, but it requires adding suspension somewhere. Either a front shock or suspension seatpost.
If you are not already an avid cyclist you may want a suspension seatpost, a front shock, and fat tires!
With big 4” tires on your bike, you should notice improved comfort when riding.
Fat Tires Give You More Traction
One major reason to have fat tires on your electric bike is to get more traction in sloppy terrain. This is especially important if you plan to go way off the trail and do some hunting on an ebike.
All good ebikes designed for hunting in the woods will have fat tires.
Most people riding around on fat tire ebikes are not out hunting, though. 🙂
The extra traction provided by fat tires also helps on paved roads. More rubber on the road means more grip.
Most fat tire ebikes are marketed to folks that don’t have a ton of riding experience or just haven’t ridden a bike in a long time.
Riding on the fatter tires will be an instant confidence boost, even if it’s just in your head. Looking down and seeing big old tires can make you feel more inclined to try out different terrain and maybe do a little off-roading for a bit.
Fat Tires Can Cushion Accidental Impacts
They are what we call “Pinch Flats” and they can be a huge burden. If you are riding on skinny tires you need to make sure you have full tire pressure or even the smallest bump can cause the tire to push all the way into the rim and cause a flat tube.
With fat tires, this is highly unlikely. Even if your tire pressure is low, there is usually still enough air by volume to support you and allow you to keep riding.
Fat tires generally run lower pressure anyway, so checking the pressure all the time is not as critical.
Almost every bike that comes into the shop is low on air. Most people are unaware that tires will lose air pressure over time and need to be topped off.
Fat tires allow for a longer grace period before the pressure is dangerously low.
Fat Tires Can Make You Feel More Secure
I have folks come into the shop all the time that are looking for a new bike and flat out say “I don’t want one with those skinny tires!”
It’s true, the skinnier your tire is the more careful you have to be.
With fat tires you can lean into turns more without slipping, you can accidentally hit a pothole and not get a flat, and if the terrain gets looser all of the sudden, you can just charge over it with a smile. 🙂
Sometimes gravel comes out of nowhere when you think you’re riding on a smooth paved surface. Just pay attention to the road while riding and even a few rocks in the road should not be a problem.
What Are the Downsides of Fat Tires on Ebikes?
Fat Tires Are Heavy
It’s just simple physics here, bigger tires weigh more than smaller ones. This will add to the overall weight of an already heavy bike and balloon the bike’s weight to almost 80lbs. (pun intended)
Fat tire ebikes will be some of the heaviest ebikes available. In order to save some weight, you should consider a fat tire ebike with smaller wheels. If you really want a fat tire bike.
Fat Tires Are More Prone to Flats
It may seem like the fat tire on your ebike is similar to a tractor tire, but it just isn’t so. Most ebikes that have fat tires will not come with the best quality or most durable ones from the start.
Having more surface area on your tire has the potential to pick up more sharp things from the road!
Pieces of glass, thorns or sharp nails that you may have been able to miss with a normal tire could end up popping your fat tire.
There are some solutions to this. Some people like to squirt a bunch of Flat Out into their tires and pray that does the trick. The issue with Flat Out, Slime, and Fix-a-Flat therapy is that your tube will already have a hole and these sealants are supposed to plug it.
I have replaced thousands of tubes over the years that are chock-full of slime and sealant. You see rubber expands and once there is a hole in your tube and you add air it will expand the hole.
Patches can work sometimes, so I recommend getting some. Replacement tubes are pricey and if you can patch a puncture correctly then your tube should be good as new.
Quick sealant repairs are only designed to get you out of trouble and to the repair shop.
Keep in mind that these sealants are not great for the environment and will add even more weight to your tires. Don’t just keep adding more sealant and hope it works. In fact, don’t add any at all!
If you really want to get the fewest flats then upgrade your tires to more durable ones and add Tannus Tire Armour Inserts to your tires.
The above is for 20-inch tires 3″ to 4″ wide (sold individually!)
The Above is for 26-inch tires 4″ to 4.8″ wide (sold individually!)
The idea is to prevent your tire from going flat, not try to seal it up after it has a hole.
Fat Tires Don’t Fit Well in Most Hitch Racks
This is something to consider long before you buy a fat ebike. If you will be having to put your new ebike on the back of your car with a hitch rack, fat tire ebikes are a challenge.
Most electric bike hitch racks are rated to carry up to 60lbs per bike. Most fat tire ebikes weigh significantly more than this. (closer to 80lbs) Even my little fat tire Lectric XP 2.0 weighs about 63lbs.
It is also a lot harder to fit the fat tires into the rack. You will need a special rack that is designed to take fat tires and carry bikes at least 80lbs each.
Thankfully there is such a rack. The Hollywood Sport Rider for Electric Bikes HR-1500 and it’s back in stock! If you have or want to get fat tire electric bikes then you should have this rack!
You can find the Hollywood Sport Rider hitch rack right here!
Fat Tires Take Up More Space
More physics 🙂 If you are limited on space then a fat tire electric bike may not be the best option.
These ebikes are cumbersome and will need extra space for storage. Be sure to plan out where you are going to put your new fat tire ebike before you get one.
2 fat tire electric bikes can take up enough room in your garage for a car!
Also, fat tire electric bikes do not hang up easily. Finding a hook that will fit the fat tire is challenging enough, but being able to lift the bike up and hang it is nearly impossible. It would be like trying to hang a small motorcycle.
What Are Some of the Myth Surrounding Fat Tires on Ebikes?
Fat Tires Let You Ride on the Sand
Going for a ride on the beach always sounds nice, but there is a reason you don’t see people actually riding their bikes on the beach.
While having a fatter tire on your bike will help with this, it’s not the only factor to consider. You also need a pretty lightweight bike.
The idea is to displace as much of your riding weight as possible so you can float along above the sand and not sink in. With fat tire electric bikes, even though the tires are fat, the bikes weigh a ton and you will just sink in and get stuck.
You may be able to ride for a time right where the water from the ocean creates harder-packed sand, but trust me it’s difficult to navigate this area of the beach and stay clear of random waves.
Riding on the sand is not an enjoyable experience. You will usually just want to get past any sandy areas as quickly as you can by riding around them or straight through without having to turn.
Your front wheel will have nothing to grip to, even with fat tires. Just stay on the Boardwalk!
Fat Tires Let You Ride on Snow
On a regular bike, fat tires can help with riding on the snow, but on a heavy ebike, it’s not a good idea. The added weight of the ebike will cause you to sink into the snow instead of float on top of it.
Riding in the snow isn’t great. Fat tires will help with this but conditions have to be just right. Usually, about 2 to 5 inches of fresh snow will give you enough float and limited resistance to ride.
Any more than this and it’s nearly impossible to push through, any less and you don’t need fat tires.
Keep in mind that when it snows, ice is also a factor. Fat tires, just by being fatter, will be useless on ice. You will need to get studded fat tires. Tires with metal spikes. (they do make studded tires for bikes!)
That being said, studded tires are not very happy on the pavement. So if conditions are mixed or you have to ride a ways on the pavement to get to the snow, then studded tires can wear out quickly. (Studded fat tires can cost over $200 each)
Fat Tires Are Tougher Than Thinner Tires
Looking at a fat tire you would think it’s pretty indestructible. They do look tough, but the size of a tire has nothing to do with how durable it is.
You will want to check the T.P.I. (threads per inch) most fat tire electric bikes will come stock with 60 tpi tires and you can upgrade those to 120 tpi tires.
While the 120 tpi tire will be tougher, that is no guarantee they won’t get flats. They will be harder to puncture and last you longer, but can still get a flat.
120 tpi fat tires are also expensive at around $100 to $150 per tire.
Your best bet to reduce flats on fat tire electric bikes is to have 120 tpi tires and Tannus Tire Armour Inserts. Then you will have some tough tires indeed!
At the End of the Day
Fat tire electric bikes are here to stay! You will find them on most Rad Power Bikes, Aventons, Magicycles, Letcric XP’s, Rambo’s, and more!
Just try to envision what it will be like to have to store or transport one first before you buy one!
If you’ve been shopping online for an electric bike then I’m sure you’ve come across many fat tire electric bikes. Just know that not all electric bikes have fat tires.
Try heading over to your local bike shop to check out some more modern electric bikes. Many of the mid-drive style ebikes these days look just like a regular bike and weigh far less.
These mid-drive ebikes will cost more but could be a good fit for your needs. You just have to figure out what you like and go for it!
Here is an article about how to pick out a new electric bike – “9 Insights to Know Before You Buy Your First electric Bike”
Stay safe out there and Keep on Riding!